SEASIDE, Calif. — The 51st PGA Professional Championship tees off on Sunday morning at Bayonet Black Horse.
Omar Uresti returns as the defending champion, having won a year ago at Sunriver Resort.
In all, 312 players will tee it up at two courses (for rounds 1 and 2) before the cut comes down.
The top 20 finishers here at the PPC will earn a spot in the field at Bellerive for the 100th PGA Championship in August.
Here’s a look at five players you’ll want to keep an eye on this week.
5. Marty Jertson
Best PPC finish: T5 in 2010
Notes: The 37-year-old Jertson, playing out of the Southwest section, hails from Phoenix. He has two career, top-10 finishes in the PPC. His last came right here in 2012 at Bayonet Black Horse when he finished in a tie for seventh. His finish that year was particularly impressive, as he opened the tournament with a 78. He bounced back with a 68 in Round 2 — the low round of the day — and finished with 72-69 on the weekend to make it to the PGA Championship for the second time in as many tries. It’s been a struggle at the PPC for Jertson since then, but with the good vibes he no doubt has this week, he’s a player to watch.
4. Danny Balin
Best PPC finish: Fourth in 2010 and 2011
Notes: For Balin, 36, this is his first PPC start since a T18 in 2013. In the four total PPCs he’s played, the Met Section pro from Westchester Country Club finished in the top 20 and advanced to the PGA Championship all four times. Balin’s time away was for good reason. He was playing on the PGA Latin America Tour. In the 2011 PPC at Hershey Country Club, Balin was red-hot in the final round, firing a 63 for that fourth-place finish. It was the lowest final round in championship history. Though he hasn’t played a PPC since 2013, we expect Balin to pick up right where he left off. In other words, we’ll see him at Bellerive.
3. Rod Perry
Best PPC finish: Won in 2013
Notes: The last time the PPC was held at Bayonet Black Horse, the 44-year-old Perry from the North Florida Section, tied for second. It was his first top-10 finish in the PPC and — since then — he’s only finished outside the top 8 once. Perry would win the tournament a year later at Sunriver Resort and finished eighth there just last year. Perry has proven himself to be a force in recent years at the PPC and we don’t anticipate that changing this week where he truly started his run six years back.
2. Omar Uresti
Best PPC finish: Won in 2017
Notes: Uresti is the defending champion after his impressive victory last June at Sunriver. It was a natural progression for the long-time PGA Tour player after a T5 in his 2015 PPC debut and T2 in 2016. Uresti has arguably more tournament experience than any player in the field. That’s got to be an advantage between the ropes. Should Uresti win, he’d be the first back-to-back winner in championship history since Mike Small turned the trick in 2009 and 2010 and just the fourth overall.
1. Matt Dobyns
Best PPC finish: Won in 2012, 2015
Notes: The 40-year-old Head Professional from Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., captured his first PPC title here in 2012. For that reason — along with another win in 2015 and two more top-20 finishes since — Dobyns is our favorite this week at Bayonet Black Horse. Dobyns has an incredible all-around game, but his strength is truly with the driver, which he just smashes. That’s going to make a lot of the longer holes out here shorter for him than most of the field. Dobyns will be riding high on confidence and great memories at the place where he first had PPC glory.